Corrupt officials may sleep calmly: Saakashvili fights just with words
Scandals at the camera is the strategic weapon in the hands of the Odesa governor
This is the fifth month, while Ukrainian media are filled with Mikheil Saakashvili’s rhetoric about the bright future of Odesa region. "Saakashvili has promised to make Odesa the capital of the Black Sea region", "Saakashvili promises to return low-costs to Ukraine ", "Saakashvili promises to make corrupted officials suffer"... The impression appears that Mikho is omnipresent, Mikho is fearless, Mikho can do everything.
It seems that the same impact is carried out to children by the image of old witch Baba Yaga, by which parents scare their offspring. Should such terrible monster be afraid of, let us look on a few examples.
Judging objectively, announcements alone are not enough to radically change the situation in the region. The governor has no powers to dismiss judges, prosecutors, and police officers, and it is about the government to decide how much money to allocate for development of the region.
Saakashvili knows it. But not to lose his face, he found his true allies - journalists who are just waiting for his loud statements.
And now Miho is the first governor who began with enviable regularity travelling to all districts of the region. Thus, he demonstrates his concern in problems of the people. The governor strongly criticizes every problem in front of several dozens of local journalists, carried by a special bus. Press service runs smoothly, as ever.
For example, the main problem of the southern parts of the region is illegal occupation of lands by the sea. It is necessary to collect local officials and to threaten them with a broom.
In the north, winemakers are forced to smuggle because of high taxes. Meet the winemakers is not a problem.
And everywhere terrible roads come first. In June, during one of his trips over the region, Saakashvili stopped car on the way near roadwork machines, appeared from nowhere. The road workers with Armenian roots wearing bright orange vests poured hot asphalt to a half-meter hole in the road. It deeply angered the governor. He began his speech only after making sure that the three cameras began filming him:
- Look, this Ukravtodor [Ukrainian Roads Committee – state body responsible for highways’ quality] just follows me! Wherever I go and see broken-down roads, in an hour some workers begin to repair it quickly. And as soon as my cortege leaves, they turn back and go about their business! Clowns!
Shortly thereafter, the governor has publicly stated that he would go to his trips on business only by bus, while Kyiv does not give money to road works. As you may have guessed, nothing followed the big promises.
Shouts did not help Mikho. Even Yatsenyuk agreed with the experiment, according to which half of the above-plan income of four regional customs (of Odesa, Volyn, Lviv, and Chernivtsi regions) is sent to the regional budget for the repair of roads. As the State Fiscal Service reported, only Odesa regional customs had not reached the plan indicators in September. Such a pity!
Public scandals are the strategic weapon in the hands of the governor. Every application and every vivid metaphor must be conveyed to the end user - the people. In the context of elections – to the voters.
Here is the latest Saakashvili’s message: "In the coming days and weeks, President Poroshenko will begin very radical and urgent reforms, in order for sacrifice of our heroes at the frontline not to be vain. We are waiting for big changes." The implication of this statement is obvious. The paradise is coming. People must just wait for a couple of weeks. Think before elections, for whom to vote.
The problem is not even in manipulating people. The problem is in lack of consistency. In late July, the governor talked to the whole country about the corruption schemes in the Odesa regional customs and vowed to overcome the smuggling in 100 days, and in early October proposed to appoint a 26-year-old activist of the Maidan as a head of the institution. Does anyone seriously think that this young person with philological education can resist corrupt monsters who know a million circuits of washing money in a relatively honest way? It is unlikely that silly appointments and empty promises – that is what is needed for Odesa region. After all, except of circuses people need real bread.
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